Summer is often a shine-killer for hair: Sun, wind, salt-water, and chlorine can all damage and weaken the hair, leaving it dry and straw-like. Additionally, since up to 85 percent of women in the United States use some type of chemical processing on their hair such as color, or heated tools such as a straightener, excessive sun exposure and chemical processing is a double whammy of damage. Here are five practical tips to help keep the shine in your hair this summer.
1. Keep it covered. Whenever possible, use a hat to completely block out excessive ultraviolet light (UVL) exposure. The spray-on SPF products for hair are not nearly as effective as keeping your tresses out of the sun completely with a hat. The added bonus here is that your face is protected from the sun too, which goes a long way to reduce the signs of aging.
2. Rinse well. It’s important to completely rinse out salt and chlorine from the hair promptly to avoid excessive drying of the hair shaft. Also, copper particles in pool water can deposit into the shaft of blonde hair leaving it that oh-so-unflattering shade of yellow-green. Once blonde hair has turned a bit green, look for copper-removing shampoo products and use heavy conditioners afterwards to replace some lost hydration.
3. Give your hair a break. Summer is a great time to lay off the blow dryer and opt for air drying and a ponytail or braid. Since the majority of hair damage and breakage is due to excessive heat on the hair shaft, the less heat styling the hair has to endure, the better. Also, don’t pull that ponytail too tight since excessive traction on the hair can cause it to break and fall out.
4. Replace hydration. Sun and processing dry out the hair, which can lead to breakage, split-ends, and frizz. I’m a big fan of leave-in light oils and serums to add shine and smooth the outer cuticle of the hair shaft for hydration and protection. Apply to the ends only to avoid greasiness at the roots.
5. Avoid peroxide or lemon juice. Lots of women will try to recreate natural highlights obtained from the sun by applying hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice to their hair before heading out to sunbathe. This is a sure-fire way to strip the hair shaft natural oils and produce lackluster, straw-like hair. The hair may get lighter, but it certainly won’t look healthy. Want highlights? Leave it to professional products which have been tested and when used properly and won’t ruin your hair.
Want to keep your makeup in place on summer’s hottest days? Check out these tips for sweat-proofing your makeup.
Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi is a board-certified dermatologist and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Surgery.